GARDENER HAS PARTING SHOTS

Daryl Gardener never has been one to mince words, and he certainly didn't do that when he talked about his departure from the Dolphins.<P>

Gardener invited three South Florida reporters to his home in Coral Springs, talked with them for about an hour, then handed them a three-page statement.

Among other things, Gardener said Coach Dave Wannstedt is not a people person, Wannstedt panicked when he released him on July 19, criticized the teammates who reportedly complained about him to Wannstedt, and said he had problems with his head coach from the time Wannstedt arrived in Miami in 1999.

"Dave tries. Don't get me wrong, Dave tries hard," Gardener said. "Dave's just not a people person. To relate to players, come on now. Dave walks in there just like I'll walk around and he'll say what he has to say and keep on moving.

"Talking to Dave was tough at times, but I had to because he's my boss."

Gardener signed with the Washington Redskins on Tuesday, getting a one-year deal for the relatively modest sum of $775,000.

The Dolphins' first-round pick in 1996 also has a problem with the teammates who went to Wannstedt. A Miami Herald story, citing unnamed sources, indicated two prominent Dolphins players went to Wannstedt.

Linebacker Zach Thomas vehemently denied this week that he was one of those players and also said Gardener knew that.

Gardener wants to know if those players are.

"I would like to know who has been lying to me, The Miami Herald or Zach Thomas?" Gardener wrote in his statement. "I personally spoke to Zach the other day who (swore) to God that he did not go to Dave and say those things about me. I want to believe The Miami Herald is a very reputable newspaper and that being a reputable newspaper they would not publish slanderous or libelous things.

"If Zach would lie to me about such an issue, please forget about feeling sorry for me. I truly feel bad for my 50 ex-teammates who have to be in the same locker room."

Gardener — who was fired for a combination of reasons, primarily the fact he was bad for team chemistry — said Wannstedt should have been more understanding while Gardener was going through personal problems in the offseason.

But through it all, Gardener said he wouldn't mind playing for the Dolphins again.

Said Gardener: "I'm always going to keep my eyes open to the fact I might be back here one day to retire as a Dolphins the way I want to retire."


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